Dipped to Death by Kelly Lane

Olive Grove Mystery, #3

On her family's South Georgia olive plantation, Eva Knox is on the hook for murder in the third delightful Olive Grove Mystery from the author of One Foot in the Grove and Cold Pressed Murder.

On a sizzling-hot September day, Eva Knox's ex-boyfriend, Dudley Dexter Codman the Third, along with a bunch of his corporate cronies from Boston, arrive at Eva's family's guest inn and olive farm, Knox Plantation. Maps and binoculars in hand, the New Englanders claim they're on a bird-watching holiday. Only, Eva knows that her ex doesn't know the first thing about birds. Nor does he care.

Eva can't fathom why he'd show up after all these years in her off-the-beaten-path hometown--nearly 1,200 miles from Boston. When Dudley's body is found drowned in the pond, Eva starts fishing for answers. But she doesn't have much time after authorities determine that her ex was poisoned by one of Eva's family's olive oils. She'll have to find the real killer before her family is caught for murder.

"Except for a few awe-inspiring mansions and estates built during the Gilded Age by wealthy Northerners who wanted lush winter getaways and hunting retreats, Abundance was mostly known for its run-down farms, big, nasty swamps, and untamed forests."

It's unusual for me to read a series out of order, but I received this as an ARC (I'm so behind.)

I adored the book - it had cute moments, southern comfort, quirky characters who weren't so other the top it was annoying, a layered story-line that had different directions, reasonably plausible suspects, a love interest that wasn't boring, a dark history in a cozy, a cute dog, and a three hour swamp tour.

Oh, and alligators and olive oil.

And nudists!

Eva Knox may be gifted with family property and a small town to return to when the going gets tough, but she's also cursed with some strange and somewhat bitchy siblings. Her ex isn't a prize but he becomes an even bigger problem when he visits the town and ends up making her a prime suspect. It's nothing new to have a cop as a love interest, but these two have history. It's a bit dicier than normal since this isn't the sweet boy next door romance introduced in a cozy like normal - he has a girl who is already hanging on to his arm and they have mama drama with the in-laws. Throw in missing brides at wedding history and yeah....not as simple as the usual paint-by-numbers cozy romance.

The Ian Collier next door is a little out there and far-fetched but hey, the whole story can't just be about alligator sightings and swamp trails. That tour was beyond funny, by the way, but it creeped me out too when our heroine took a plunge into a lake she needed to stay out of. *shudders*

Another unusual aspect of this is the language - for a cozy mystery they usually dot their i's and cross their t's when it comes to substituting cussing (gasp!) but here we get some realistic dialogue for a change. Win.

I did want to slap her sister around sometimes, but this is a fun one.

Reviewed after receiving from Netgalley as an ARC.